Vitamin B7 Facts: Everything You Need to Know

By:    Published: February 2, 2012

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Vitamin B7 is one of the eight vitamins that are included under the umbrella of B vitamins. Typically, vitamin B7 is referred to by the name biotin. It shares several qualities with other vitamins in the B vitamins group, especially in its facilitation of food breakdown. However, it also offers several unique health benefits to the body. This article will explore the uses, food sources and daily dosage recommendations for biotin.

What Does Vitamin B7 Do?

As with all vitamins in the B vitamins group, vitamin B7 plays an important role in the body's metabolism. This means that it helps the carbohydrates that a person consumes get broken down into glucose. This glucose acts as a kind of fuel, which provides energy for the body. Therefore, biotin and the other B vitamins are useful for providing the body with a natural energy boost. Since it also helps to break down meats and proteins, vitamin B7 and the other B vitamins also prevent excessive weight gain.

One of the most unique uses for biotin is to develop and maintain stronger hair and nails. For that reason, it is a common ingredient in cosmetic products that are intended for use on the hair or nails.

There are several other areas where studies are being conducted to determine biotin's effectiveness. For example, several studies suggest that vitamin B7, when combined with chromium, may be helpful in improving blood sugar levels in individuals who suffer from type 2 diabetes. Additionally, many people with type 2 diabetes have found that biotin helps to reduce their nerve pain. Keep in mind, however, that these are still preliminary studies, and further research is required before these health benefits can be definitively linked to biotin.

Food Sources of Vitamin B7

Vitamin B7 is found in small amounts in many types of common foods, making it easy for most people to obtain an adequate amount of the vitamin through a healthy, balanced diet. Some of the key foods which contain biotin include brewer's yeast, sardines, soybeans, whole grains, cauliflower, bananas and mushrooms. Several types of nuts are also good sources of biotin, including almonds, pecans, peanuts and walnuts. Cooked eggs can also be a good source of biotin, but the egg yolk is especially rich in this vitamin. In general, the more a food is processed, the less biotin it will contain. Stick with fresh, unprocessed foods to get the most biotin out of your foods.

Side Effects

Unlike some of the other B vitamins, there are no known side effects with biotin, even in high doses. However, it is important to consult a physician first if you are thinking about taking biotin in supplement form.

It's helpful to be aware of the foods and medications that may affect the way in which your body absorbs vitamin B7. More specifically, raw egg whites can cause biotin to bind to the intestine and prevent it from being absorbed. When eaten regularly, raw eggs can cause a vitamin B7 deficiency. Antibiotics can also affect an individual's biotin levels, since they destroy stomach bacteria that naturally produce biotin.

Deficiency Symptoms

A biotin deficiency cannot be detected with any standardized lab test, so physicians usually identify this condition based on certain signs. Some of the most common outwardly physical symptoms associated with a vitamin B7 deficiency include thinning hair and a red scaly rash around the eyes, nose and mouth. Other signs of the deficiency include depression, hallucinations and tingling in the arms and legs. Some studies also suggest that a long-term biotin deficiency may lead to diabetes in some individuals.

Daily Dosage Recommendations

Individuals should be sure to receive an adequate intake of biotin each day. However, since there are no known side effects when biotin in consumed naturally through foods, it's OK to exceed these recommended dosages. From birth to the age of 6 months, babies should get at least 5 micrograms of biotin per day. From 7 to 12 months old, the recommendation is 6 mcg each day. For children who are 1 to 3 years old, 8 mcg of pyridoxine a day is the recommendation; from age 4 to 8 years, 12 mcg per day; from age 9 to 13 years, 20 mcg; and from age 14 to 18 years, 25 mcg.

Once adults reach the age of 19, the recommendation is generally about 30 mcg per day. However, the recommended amount may change due to several factors. For example, a person with certain health conditions or dietary restrictions may be prescribed a higher or lower dosage of biotin each day. Also, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding are often advised to take slightly larger daily dosages of vitamin B7. In any case, always seek out the advice of a physician before changing you daily dosage of biotin.

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